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When you visit someone at the hospital or go to your dentistís or doctorís appointment do you ever notice whatís on their walls? Is it beautiful art that you can escape into or is it a collection of human body charts? Are the walls adorned by the doctorís list of hourly fees?
Most of the waiting rooms I have visited have ugly abstracts, often brown or grey ink splatters that are disturbing rather than decorative. If they actually have something pretty on the walls itís usually from IKEA, and you soon get bored as you have seen it many places before.
I believe art in hospitals and institutions as well as in waiting rooms should be relaxing or cheerful and energizing. Something with positive energy! Most of us are a little nervous in such settings and would appreciate a chance to escape for a moment. Art lets us do just that.
Art as therapy is a great way of getting information from a patient about his or her personality and experiences, but Iím not so sure that mental institutions should hang art made by the patients on the walls. Although the act of painting has a positive effect on the patient himself, the result may not always work that way as art on the wall for other admitted patients to see. It can actually be perceived as very disturbing, especially if the colors and other elements in the image are of a stressful character. One patientís hallucinations painted on canvas might not be good medicine for other psychiatric patients.
Blue and green tones are proved to be calming, and images of water are most likely to be appreciated. Someone told me that patients in a mental institution destroyed all the images on the walls except those of water. In a nursing home the sound of running water kept the residents from trying to escape. Imagine how a combination of the sound of water along with images of water would work!
In my opinion calming and relaxing art should be mandatory in all hospitals, institutions and waiting rooms as well as in prisons. And Iím sure the employees would appreciate and benefit from some energizing art in their own areas. Beautiful art should be available to everyone, and it doesnít have to cost millions. Buy from the living artists! The dead ones donít need the money!
This post has also been published on my blog on Wikinut.